Don’t become a couch potato… or a hermit!
According to a recent survey, more than 50 percent of Americans say that fall is their happiest time of year.
With all the cool, crisp, fresh air outside… the beautiful leaves changing colors… and the chance to pull on your favorite cozy sweater… there’s certainly a lot to love.
Unfortunately, this change in season brings back a few bad habits, too—like binging on greasy comfort foods or holing up indoors, cozying on the couch for hours on end.
While these “feel-good” habits are fine on occasion, in abundance they take a SIGNIFICANT toll on our health.
So, here are 12 tips for fighting the “fall slump” without giving up all your favorite, cool-weather pleasures…
Adopt healthy habits for autumn
1. Eat like an athlete on game day (and every day). Instead of loading up on fried foods, sweets, refined grains, and processed meat when watching your favorite football team this fall—or whatever you enjoy watching—I suggest taking a different approach.
Think of yourself as an athlete and load up on nutritional foods that fuel your body!
Enjoy some nutrient-dense snacks, such as homemade guacamole with chopped veggies. Or—better yet—make a nice braised brisket or some Italian meatballs for a healthy meal… and skip the snacks altogether!
You can get the recipes for these mouth-watering dishes—and follow along as I make them—by tuning into my cooking show, Cooking with Dr. Fred, on Instagram (@DrFredNYC) and YouTube (“The Dr. Fred Show”).
Plus, for hundreds of healthy recipes, order yourself a copy of my A-List Diet book from my website,
2. Shorten your “eating window.” According to a recent study, people consume more calories overall in the fall than in the spring.1 And this seasonal increase could relate to any number of factors…
For example, in the fall, with fewer daylight hours, your body starts producing less of the “feel-good” hormone serotonin, which can increase food cravings. Most people also tend to spend more time inside in the evenings, leading to more snacking.
But incorporating the intermittent fasting (IF) technique of “time-restricted eating” can help you manage these seasonal influences and avoid packing on pounds during these darker, cooler days. As an added bonus, it may improve your blood sugar… even if you have Type 2 diabetes!
In fact, in one recent study, researchers looked at what would happen if men and women with Type 2 diabetes limited their eating window to just 10 hours per day.2 And it turns out, they:
- Decreased their 24-hour blood glucose (sugar) levels
- Increased their average time spent with blood sugar in the “normal range” from 12.2 hours to 15.1 hours
- Improved their morning fasting blood sugar levels
Importantly, the people who followed this IF technique did NOT increase their risk of suffering from hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Plus, I find I have more focus and energy throughout the day when following IF techniques.
An easy way to shorten your eating window is to only eat during a four- to eight-hour window. I personally limit my daily meals between noon and 6 p.m.
3. Prepare your immune system. Every fall, we see a huge spike in the number of viruses and now COVID-19 variants. But you can prime your immune system, starting TODAY, by adding a few key supplements to your daily regimen, including:
- Vitamin D—250 mcg (10,000 IU) daily
- Vitamin C—1,000 mg three times per day
- Probiotics—Opt for a high-quality supplement that features different strains of friendly flora, along with prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. (Remember, when it comes to probiotics, more isn’t necessarily better. The key is diversity of strains over quantity.)
- BRM-4/BioBran—500 mg twice per day
4. Enjoy all the classic, fall vegetables. I love changing my cooking with the seasons. And during this time of year, I especially enjoy fresh, low-carb vegetables—including cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. These cruciferous veggies add a lot of fiber and antioxidants to your diet—helping to ward off hunger and disease.
Plus, a recent Australian study found that people who eat more cruciferous vegetables have fewer harmful calcium deposits, which can lead to heart attack and stroke.3
In fact, people who enjoyed just 45 grams per day of these vegetables were 46 percent less likely to have calcium build-up in their aorta. That amount equals just about ¼ cup of steamed broccoli or ½ cup of raw cabbage!
5. Clean up the yard or garden. The fall is the perfect time to pull out weeds, trim back trees, remove spent crops, turnover garden soil, and plant new shrubs and bulbs. Plus, all that digging and raking will help you burn some extra calories and get your heart pumping as we head into a more sedentary time of year.4
Not to mention, science shows gardening is more effective against dementia than walking or even maintaining moderate alcohol intake. And—you’ll soak up some extra sunshine, which may still help bolster your vitamin D levels as we head into the dark days of winter. (Learn more about the benefits of working in your garden on page 6.)
6. Give back to your community. Volunteering out in the community will certainly keep you off the couch this fall. Plus, a big, recent study out of Harvard found that people who regularly volunteer enjoy a “substantially reduced” mortality (death) risk and develop fewer physical limitations!5 They also have higher activity levels and an improved sense of well-being later in life. So, find a cause you care about… and dedicate some of your free time to supporting it.
7. Take the “scenic route.” Research shows that simply taking the “scenic route” on your daily travels can significantly boost your mental health.6 So, this fall, when running errands, visiting family, or taking a leisurely walk, follow a route that takes you through wooded areas, parks, or other natural settings.
8. Head to the farmer’s market. My local farmer’s market in New York is a half-block away from my apartment. I absolutely love visiting it in the fall to peruse all the fresh, local, organic produce. And I encourage you to do the same. You can also aim to find a nearby farm stand, pumpkin patch, or orchard. All of them typically offer delicious produce at reasonable prices.
9. Cook with this classic, fall spice. As I mentioned in last month’s Logical Health Alternatives, I love using cinnamon in my baking (like in pumpkin protein pancakes) or as a garnish (like on top of crepes).
Plus, cinnamon has a number of POWERFUL health benefits…
In fact, enjoying some cinnamon regularly can help people with prediabetes regulate their blood sugar levels and improve their body’s response to eating a carb-heavy meal.7 And that’s key—because research shows you can ward off a full-blown Type 2 diabetes diagnosis if you make the right dietary changes at the very first sign of trouble.
10. Add some hearty soup to the menu. As the temperatures begin to drop, it doesn’t get much better than sitting down to enjoy a steaming bowl of good, hearty soup. It warms the body and the soul. Plus, it’s a great way to add lots of seasonal veggies into your diet—like cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and squash—which are packed with phytochemicals and other nutrients that slam the breaks on disease.
Swiss cauliflower-Emmentaler soup is one of my favorites for the season, as it’s highly nutritious and satisfying. In a vegetable broth, combine pureed cauliflower with nutmeg, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper. Then, add Emmentaler cheese and chives, stirring until smooth. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
11. Soak in a hot bath. You may think that taking a hot bath is an indulgence you can’t afford. But that’s a big mistake. In fact, research shows taking time to relax and unwind in a hot bath benefits your health in four remarkable ways.
First, it can ward off depression even better than exercise.8 Second, it improves fasting blood glucose (sugar) levels and insulin.9 Third, it boosts interleukins—powerful proteins that fight off disease and regulate your inflammatory response.
And fourth, a recent study shows it lowers your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by an impressive 35 percent. It also lowers your risk of dying from heart attack or stroke.10 Pretty impressive for something so simple… and indulgent!
12. Open your windows. At this time of year, we all tend to spend more time indoors. But research shows indoor air pollution is a real problem… and a real threat to your health.11
Of course, smoke from tobacco products or wood-burning stoves are obvious culprits. But cleaning products, scented fall candles, plug-in deodorizers, and even building materials or fabrics can also produce volatile organic compounds that harm your breathing and your overall health.
Whenever possible, open your windows for a few hours to release all the pent-up chemicals. In addition, ditch the toxic cleaning products and artificial scents. Instead, use vinegar and baking soda to clean around the house.
And if you want to evoke the smell of fall in the air—bring a big pot filled with apple slices, ground cinnamon, and water to a boil on the stove. It will fill your home with the most delicious aroma that won’t harm your respiratory system!
Lastly, consider investing in a personal-sized indoor air disinfector to use when traveling and staying in hotels. This handy device actually grabs and kills all the pollutants in the environment, and it creates a personalized space of protection. I have one in my office and my home.
Well, there you have it… 12 tips for how to fight the “fall slump” without give up on cool-weather pleasures.
So, while other folks start lounging on the couch and drowning themselves in sugar-laden treats this month… you can start reaping the remarkable benefits of these healthy fall activities.
SIDEBAR: Skip that pumpkin spice latte… make THIS instead
This fall, rather than falling victim to the season’s biggest trend, do yourself, your waistline, and your blood sugar a favor—SKIP the long, chaotic lines at your local coffee shop. If you really have a craving for a pumpkin spice latte, make yourself a healthier version at home.
Try this instead:
- 1/2 cup of brewed organic coffee*
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon of grass-fed butter
- 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
- 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon of organic pumpkin puree
- 5 drops of liquid stevia (or 1/2 packet)
Combine all ingredients in blender and puree until frothy. (*Opt for decaf if you’re drinking it in the afternoon or if you’re sensitive to caffeine.)
- “How Wintertime Affects Our Eating Habits.” Everyday Health, 1/21/21. (everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/why-do-we-eat-more-in-winter.aspx)
- “Eating only during the daytime boosts health of people with Type 2 diabetes.” Study Finds, 7/25/22. (studyfinds.org/eating-daytime-type-2-diabetes/)
- “Eating Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower may boost blood vessel health.” Study Finds, 8/24/20. (studyfinds.org/blood-vessel-health-broccoli-brussels-sprouts-cauliflower/)
- “Gardening for health: a regular dose of gardening.” Clin Med (Lond), 2018; 18(3): 201-205. doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.18-3-201
- “Do Good, Live Longer: Volunteering May Add Years to Lifespan, Improves Overall Well-Being.” Study Finds, 6/12/20. (studyfinds.org/do-good-live-longer-volunteering-may-add-years-to-lifespan-improves-overall-well-being/)
- “Study: Taking the scenic route to work every day improves mental health.” Study Finds, 10/19/18. (studyfinds.org/commuting-scenic-natural-environments-improves-mental-health/)
- “Cinnamon may improve blood sugar control in people with prediabetes.” Science Daily, 07/21/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200721102143.htm)
- “Why Taking a Bath Could Be Better for Treating Depression Than Exercise.” Health, 10/24/18. (health.com/condition/depression/hot-bath-better-depression-treatment-than-exercise#:~:text=According%20to%20a%20new%20study,ease%20some%20of%20the%20symptoms.)
- “Acute and chronic effects of hot water immersion on inflammation and metabolism in sedentary, overweight adults.” J Appl Physiol, 2018 Dec 1;125(6):2008-2018. doi.org/ 10.1152/japplphysiol.00407.2018.
- “Bath benefits: Hopping in the tub regularly linked to lower risk of death from heart disease.” Study Finds, 3/25/20. (studyfinds.org/bath-benefits-hopping-in-the-tub-regularly-linked-to-lower-risk-of-death-from-heart-disease/)
- “What’s smog? Almost half of adults are clueless about air pollution.” Study Finds, 7/12/22. (studyfinds.org/adults-clueless-air-pollution/)